Science, and the scientific method, are ways we use to investigate and understand what is going on in our environment. The advent of Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our daily lives and changed many things that were deemed normal. Kids have lived through the pandemic for almost two years now. Yet, many of them, especially the little ones, don't understand how infections spread and how antibodies and vaccines work.
If your kids enjoy science experiments and you need something to break the ice on a rainy day, these DIY projects will keep them busy while educating them on the subject in a fun and engaging way.
Dancing Pepper Experiment
In this experiment, we’ll use water surface tension to show why eliminating viruses is easier when you clean your hands using soap and water.
Things that you need: A shallow plate, water, black pepper, liquid dishwashing soap
Pour some water onto your plate and sprinkle a generous amount of black pepper. There must be enough pepper in the water so that it forms a nice even layer on the surface.
Dip your finger into the liquid dishwashing soap while being careful not to let soap fall into the plate yet as this may tamper with the results of the experiment.
Dip your finger into the water containing the pepper. The pepper should move away from your finger and rush outwards to the edge of the plate.
Explanation: This effect is due to surface tension which basically allows for objects with higher density to float instead of being submerged in the water. When soap is introduced to the water and pepper mixture, it actually breaks apart the surface tension, causing the water molecules to spread out and bringing the pepper along to the sides of the plate. This is a simple demonstration how soap makes getting rid of grease on a greasy plate or virus on your hands easier.
Soap and Oil Experiment
This is another straightforward and entertaining experiment that demonstrates just how important it is to use soap when washing our hands.
Things that you need: Cooking oil, water, liquid soap, and an empty transparent bottle
Pour equal amounts of the water and oil into the bottle before putting its lid on tightly. It should show that the water and oil are not mixing.
Shake the bottle and then leave it to stand upright. You will see that the oil continues to remain separate from the water, sitting on its top.
Add some liquid soap to the mixture and shake the bottle. The oil should now submerge in the water when left to stand upright again.
Explanation: The outer layer of a virus, e.g., the Covid-19 virus, is made up of lipids. Lipids are molecules that comprise fats and oils. They are not attracted to water, so if you wash your hands only with water, it does not affect the virus. Adding soap to the equation breaks apart the surface tension in the water, and allows oils to be washed away more effectively. Similar concepts apply in things like disinfectants and bleach.
There are many fun and unique ways to explore the world of science. Whether it’s through performing a simple experiment in your home, reading a science book or signing up for a science course, there are endless discoveries to be made. Science courses, in particular, can be very effective for children due to their hands-on teaching of the subject matter. If you are looking for an institution that will bring the best out of your kids’ scientific learning, Heuristics Science is a science tuition centre that provides primary science workshops in Singapore, including our yearly P5/P6 Experiment-Based Workshop. Contact us today for more information on how we can help them discover the little Einstein in them! You can also catch our Facebook Live here!